Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi explained Iran has enough material to create four nuclear bombs.
Date: 02/02/2012, 12:44 PM Author: Rotem Eliav, Jonatan Urich
Head of IDF (Zahal) Military Intelligence, Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, spoke at the 12th Annual Herzliya Conference on Thursday (February 2) discussing the components of regional turmoil and their effect on Israeli security.
Maj. Gen. Kochavi elaborated on the explanations and reasons standing behind the regional turmoil in the Middle East and explained that the prevalent trend is a strengthening in the voice of the Arabic public. “This public that has not been able to express its aspirations for decades, discovered its capability and its voice since it began translating it into political power. This summarizes the revolution in the Middle East. This may develop in many different ways,” he said.
Maj. Gen. Kochavi said that “This public learned that it can overthrow authorities, change constitutions, shape everyday life and influence. It did not storm the streets lobbying for a set agenda but rather stormed against corruption and lack of rights and equality. It demanded basic rights: to make a living, raise a family, live. As expected, this movement is led by the younger generations.” He said that many are unemployed and living with their parents till their 30s as a result of welfare problems.
“The young Arab today is more educated, more connected and more exposed to the reality reflected on television screens, the internet and smart phones, of the reality in Arab countries, the east and advanced regions in the world. The contrast between what he sees and what he experiences grew. The modern-day young Arab is more frustrated and requires a lot more,” said Maj. Gen. Kochavi who estimated that “the combination of frustration, corruption and lack of personal growth – becomes the fuel for the turmoil in the Middle East. This turmoil may continue for many years until these fundamental problems are resolved.”
More pro-Islamic neighboring countries
The result of the turmoil in the Middle East, according the Maj. Gen. Kochavi, is that the central authority, the leader is becoming weaker and is losing its power in Arab countries. On the other hand, the public is strengthening. “Moreover, the main asset of the authorities, the asset of fear they used to rule the country is dissipating to be replaced by caution and deep consideration for the Arabic public,” he said. “The public is a lot more daring, the authorities are a lot less daring, and for the first time in decades the public is becoming a determining factor in rules and authorities.”
“The turmoil enables change in the Middle East and the rise of Islam – in Tunisia, Morocco, and Egypt,” Maj. Gen. Kochavi said, mentioning that “Islam is not the driving force of the revolution, not in its initial and more advance stages. The young people did not storm the streets holding copies of the Koran. They stormed against everything I have mentioned so far. The Muslim parties recognized this massive trend and are using it, attempting to turn it into a political advantage.” He continued to explain that Islam is weaving into these countries on the basis of a clear loss of ideology and lack of organization they are currently experiencing.
Additionally, Maj. Gen. Kochavi talked about the solidarity developing between organizations such as the “Muslim Brotherhood” operating in the different Arab countries and in broader frames. “The models may vary – the Islam-based authorities, authorities incorporating Islam… the political power of Egypt is declining, though will most likely remain an extremely influential location shaping the Middle East. The ruling model that will formulate there might significantly influence the Middle East.”
Maj. Gen. Kochavi ruled that these trends are resulting in “more and more countries around us will be lead by pro-Islamic rules, and the national foundation characterizing Middle Eastern authorities in recent years – are changing. The Islamic foundation is becoming more dominant.”
Maj. Gen. Kochavi added that “the changes causing the turmoil are not taking place only between the civilian public and the rule but also between the different countries. A trend shaping the turmoil is the hostilities between Iran-Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Each of these strives for homogeny and regional influence. Saudi Arabia strives to maintain the former balance of power, while Turkey and Iran hope to influence the Middle East as a whole.
Iran continues arranging for terror attacks against Israel
Regarding the Iranian front, Maj. Gen. Kochavi said that Iran’s agenda is to influence the world at large and specifically the Middle East. “Revolution forces are systematically operating to smuggle weapons into as many countries in the region. Even today they are arranging for terror attacks against Israel and the Jewish people. Since its inception and till today Iran has tried to invade these countries and operated from within them,” he said.
On the other hand, Maj. Gen. Kochavi mentioned that Turkey is forgoing an opportunity to influence the Middle East. “The alternative, that represents an authority incorporating democracy and Islam, national zeal with a close connection to the west,” he said. He explained that in spite repeated attempts to connect between Turkey and Iran over the last few months, tensions have been growing and Turkey is taking clear action against Iranian interests. The obvious example is subsidizing the Free Syrian Army.
As opposed to Iran and Turkey, Saudi Arabia is maintaining the old order and balance of power, doing “everything in its ability to contain the turmoil.” According to Maj. Gen. Kochavi, Saudi Arabia “saw Iran as a political threat, and in the face of forces of the turmoil and the Iranian race for nuclear capabilities, Saudi Arabia woke up from its slumber and is ready to act. The clearest statement is sending 1,000 soldiers to Bahrain where Iran attempted to gain control. Moreover, it partakes in the sanctions against Iran. Saudi Arabia enabled the embargo against Iran by guaranteeing to supply oil instead.”
The result of the turmoil, according to Maj. Gen. Kochavi, is that the radical axis supported by Iran-Syria-Lebanon-Hezbollah as one, and by Iran-Hamas-Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip, is suffering recent upheavals. “The situation in Syria is worsening, the pressures against Iran, the influence on Hamas as a result of the turmoil and even Hezbollah, the head of Iran in the region, is suffering many difficulties as a result of occurrences in Syria, as well as internal issues,” he said.
He estimated that the economies of all Middle Eastern countries are currently undergoing systematic deterioration, in terms of growth and inflation alongside basic unemployment. “The economy will be the main test for all countries in the region. The financial problems have great potential as turmoil ensues, though these can be curbed and require focusing on internal problems and not exterior ventures,” he ruled.
Every tenth Lebanese house serves as weapons storage or launching site
Maj. Gen. Kochavi said that “our enemies hope to limit the IDF (Zahal)’s advantage in fear of facing it in the battlefield, limiting aerial and intelligence superiority and attacking the home front and civilians in order to harm and create stress – that cannot be achieved against the military. Our enemies fortify with missiles and rockets and disappearance of weapons from the battle field.”
“The strengthening of ground missiles grew significantly,” added Maj. Gen. Kochavi who mentioned that “our enemies currently possess approximately 200,000 rockets and missiles capable of harming the State of Israel. Most are capable of a 40 kilometer range, thousands are capable of hundreds of kilometers in range. More missiles and rockets are currently located deep within enemy territory limiting the IDF (Zahal)’s maneuvering capabilities, since the IDF (Zahal) will not invade these areas. More missiles can reach deep into Israeli territory, targeting the civilian population. They are operating deep within enemy territory and can reach deep within Israel where, for example Gush Dan, can be targeted by such rockets from Syria, Lebanon and Iran. These missiles’ warheads are becoming more and more deadly by hundreds of kilograms. The precision and accuracy is improving as well as, as the system becomes more equipped, concealed and stationed within urban regions where every tenth house in Lebanon serves as a missile storage facility or a rocket launching site.”
Maj. Gen. Kochavi added that “the enemy is disappearing from the battle field,” and if in the past a company commander would look through binoculars on the battle field and see the enemy, today in Lebanon or Gaza he would not see anything.”The battle field migrated to urban regions and the village will look just the same. The civilian population harbors modern military weapons in large quantities: communication rooms, headquarters, rocket launching sites, and many weapon storage facilities.”
Another trend Maj. Gen. Kochavi addressed is the development of school zones used for terror activity in countries in the region.
“In Sinai, Syria and other locations, smuggling routes used by Iran and terror organizations are developing and forming another front for terror activity. During the last year, since the terror attack in the tourist city of Eilat, several terror attacks originating from the Gaza Strip to Sinai were thwarted.” Maj. Gen. Kochavi said that “Islamic Jihad bodies are operating in Syria, Sinai and many other places.”
“Iran can acquire nuclear weapon within a year”
Iran continues growing in the face of all these developments. “Iran continues advancing while developing a nuclear weapon project and an attempt to achieve military nuclear capabilities. Most intelligence communities agree with our intelligence perceptions on the subject of nuclear weaponry.”
According to Maj. Gen. Kochavi, Iran is driven to acquire military nuclear weapons for three reasons: creating regional homogeny, threat and becoming an international power. “Iran has enough material to create four nuclear bombs. It continues developing such material and claims that it is doing so for peaceful and civilian purposes. We have proof that Iran continued developing military nuclear weapons,” he stated.
He continued that “Iran is nearly capable of acquiring nuclear weapons. It is not dependant on additional development but rather a matter of decision. The moment Khamenei decides to press forward and create the first nuclear bomb, it will take a year to complete the task. Since then it will take another year or two to arm missiles with nuclear warheads.”
Additionally, Maj. Gen. Kochavi estimated that Iran is under growing pressure, as the international spotlight is systematically focused on its activity. “The sanctions are conveying the message,” said Maj. Gen. Kochavi, who also mentioned that in Syria “16% of the population is unemployed, inflation stands at 24% and any growth is negligible. The pressure is felt on the streets, at the markets and is likely to grow in the coming months.”
Maj. Gen. Kochavi also said that “all the pressures applied to Iran are not bringing it to a strategic renovation, but rather as they grow, the authority, worried for its survival, might reconsider its approach.”
Importance of IDF (Zahal) military intelligence grows
When Maj. Gen. Kochavi discussed the Syrian front, he said that it lies “at the core of the radical axis.” He explained that “during the last few weeks, the Assad regime is under growing pressure. Violence is ensuing, protests are expanding and conflict is taking over Damascus. The army is absorbing daily desertion and with 30% recruitment during recent cycles. The army is being attacked and is incapable of fulfilling its missions effectively.”
On the other hand, the Free Syria Army is strengthening and taking over more and more land. “The ring around Assad is cracking, it is understood the core of the problem is Assad himself. We estimate that the Assad regime will continue deteriorating till its enviable fate,” he added.
Maj. Gen. Kochavi ruled that “Israeli deterrence remains. We face a more malicious, more Islamic, more zealous Middle East on the streets of each country and between the different nations. Less controlled by the regime and less affected by international influence. This imbalance persists and this means we must prepare for changes and unexpected turns.”
“The IDF (Zahal) Intelligence Branch is prepared for modifications. We run an inclusive test of our methods, examining everything. We inspect our suitability to the reality with a sharp, critical knife. We will need to supply more intelligence to other fronts, in depth streams, social trends and social networks. We will need to supply operational intelligence that will enable the uncovering of weapons systems and challenges in the battlefield.”
“The resolution will be high and more approachable to the various IDF (Zahal) branches and we will need to operate in the cyber font. The role of the IDF (Zahal) Intelligence Branch has strengthened and moreover we must continue with its traditional strength in supplying inclusive national and strategic intelligence, including all factors to formulate a clear picture for decision-making officials.”